Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James ♥ Book Tour & GIVEAWAY ♥ (Austenesque Romance)


“It is settled between us already, that we are to be the happiest couple in the world.” —Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice

Charlie Haywood is a London-based private investigator who has made his own fortune—on his own terms. Charming, cynical, and promiscuous, he never expected to be attracted to Evie Pemberton, an emerging and independent-minded artist living with the aftermath of tragedy. But when he is hired to investigate her claims to a one hundred and fifty year old trust belonging to the eminent Darcy family, he is captivated.

Together they become entwined in a tale of love, loss, and mystery tracing back to the grand estate of Pemberley, home to Evie’s nineteenth century ancestors, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy.

How could Evie know that in 1817 Elizabeth Darcy began a secret journal? What started as an account of a blissful life came to reflect a growing unease. Was the Darcy marriage perfect or was there betrayal and deception at its heart?

Can Evie and Charlie unearth the truth in the letters of Fitzwilliam Darcy or within the walls of present-day Pemberley? What are the elusive Elizabeth papers and why did Elizabeth herself want them destroyed?

From Chapter 2

Maureen’s chair made a gentle motion on the thick pile of the carpet as she stood. “Miss Carter? Mr. Haywood will see you now. Would you like tea or coffee?”
The woman who had been plumped down on the sofa in the waiting room for no more than ten minutes seemed startled. Her half read copy of Country Life was slipped back onto the low table in front of her. She asked for a coffee, stood, and straightening her slightly too-tight skirt, followed Maureen into the room. When she saw Charlie Haywood for the first time, her eyes widened as she took him in. He was quite used to this reaction and did not demur from it. He looked at her for a beat too long but then relaxed and was as friendly and professional as he knew how to be. He didn’t want to make the woman uncomfortable. She was paying, after all. Added to which, her expression led him to think she didn’t need to be encouraged.
“Come in, Miss Carter. Please, take a seat. I am sorry to have kept you waiting.”
“Oh, thank you,” she replied, almost surprised.
“Pleasant journey, I hope? You have come from Shropshire, I think?”
“Yes, yes, I have.”
“Well, do come in and sit down. Maureen will fetch you a drink, and we can have a chat about your case. I believe that you spoke to my colleague, Simon, when you rang before?”
She nodded. Charlie thought briefly of Simon, his would-be prodigy. Simon, who was currently on the tail of the trophy wife of a Lebanese businessman, whose taste for men who were not her husband had made her the talk of Chelsea and had brought yet another remunerative brief to the door of Haywood Enquiry Agents. He knew Simon to be following her that afternoon and hoped that he wasn’t being too obvious about it. Suddenly remembering that he needed to concentrate, he fixed his gaze on the lady in front of him and put all ideas of Simon aside.
“I understand that you are considering mounting a legal challenge to a trust of which you are a beneficiary and that there is a historical element involved. You have come to the right place, Miss Carter. I would not say this to all of my clients, but I have a special interest in enquiries that involve a bit of history. I hope we can help. I am fairly sure that if we can’t help you then nobody can.”
“You did come very highly recommended, Mr. Haywood.” She smiled, and for a moment, he felt sick. She was, he would estimate, in her late twenties, and she was by no means unattractive. Still, there was something about her that made him want to turn away.
“Well, that is always gratifying. I hope we will not disappoint. Ah, here is Maureen. Thanks, Maureen.”
There was a brief interlude in which sugar lumps were dropped in hot coffee and silver teaspoons tinkled around china.
“Maybe it would be best, Miss Carter, if you just told me your story in your own words. Then I can tell you what I think, and we can go from there?”
“No problem. I can do that. Let’s start from the beginning. It’s like this. My family on Mummy’s side is terribly grand, Mr. Haywood. Our branch of the family is one of the less well-off ones unfortunately, but there are landed estates and aristocrats if you look back—the whole damned shooting match. Don’t really see much of them all now of course, but families are like that, aren’t they? I am sure that I am related to all sorts of impressive people. Anyway, when I was eighteen, I started receiving money from something called the Darcy Trust. Mummy does too and my cousin on her side, Jennifer. It turns out that all of the women in Mummy’s family get money from it. Mummy has been getting it ever since she was eighteen. It is a pretty penny too, I can tell you. Over the years…well…it has paid for quite a lot.”
She blinked, and he knew that she had wanted to say more but thought better of it. Running her manicured hand along the groove at the edge of his desk, she continued.
“Anyway, until very recently, I didn’t know all that much about it. I just got the money, and I was bloody glad of it. Then Mummy said that her Aunt Mary was on her last legs with cancer, and she really wanted to see her before she died. Now, I hadn’t seen Aunt Mary since I was a child, but a trip to Scotland didn’t sound too shabby, and Mummy really wanted some company, so along I went. I suppose that it was a bit grim at times, but it wasn’t too bad. Aunt Mary’s place was lovely—really gorgeous—and my bedroom had a super view. Anyway, it was pretty obvious that she was very ill, and we spent a few days with her talking about the old days and family history and all of that, you know?”
He nodded, but of course, he didn’t know. Miss Carter crossed her legs and leaned towards him, sipping awkwardly from her cup.
“She was really into it—family history, I mean. She seemed to know all sorts—more than me, and I know a bit. Told us all about the war and other times as well, much further back. She was amazing, really, when you think of her age and her health. It was one morning just after breakfast. Mummy was having a potter around the garden, and I had just made myself a coffee. I didn’t have anything else to do, so I sat with Aunt Mary and asked her if she’d like some help with her crossword. She looked me squarely in the face and said, ‘Victoria Darcy wasn’t his daughter you know. Nobody was allowed to say, but it was the truth.’ I was completely foxed, but she looked as if she was saying something important. So, I put down my coffee, took her frail old hand, and said, ‘Come again, Aunt Mary?’ It was then that she told me about the Darcy Trust. It turns out that it was started by some long-dead relation of ours, Fitzwilliam Darcy. He had five daughters and set up a trust to benefit his female descendants. Only that’s just the thing. One of the daughters, this Victoria, wasn’t his daughter at all. Born on the wrong side of the bed sheets, and somehow his wife passed it off. Did the dirty and got away with it. Apparently, according to Aunt Mary, there has always been talk about it in the family, but nobody ever actually did anything about it, but people knew.”
“Do you know when this was, Miss Carter?”
“Sure. Victoria Darcy was born in 1821.”
“1821?”
“Yes. I did a bit of research. I hope you’re impressed, Mr. Haywood?” He resisted the temptation to laugh but smiled at her instead. “Charlie, please.”
“Charlie.” She seemed to pass the word around in her mouth. “Anyway, the upshot is that this Victoria and all of her daughters and granddaughters and so on are not real Darcys. If they are getting money from the trust, then they bloody well shouldn’t be. That’s what I’m here about.”
So she was a greedy one. There were the greedy ones, the resentful ones, the mad ones, the campaigning ones, and the ones who had too much money and not enough to do. She was definitely a greedy one.
“So, this Fitzwilliam Darcy—he was married?”
“Yes, he was married.”
“Do you know anything else about him or his wife?”
“No, that is why I have come to you.”
She looked suddenly aggressive, and Charlie reflected that she didn’t have much of a “middle gear” when it came to being aggravated.
“And do you know whether or not Victoria Darcy has any living female descendants? People who are alive and receiving money from the trust?”
“Yes. Well, Aunt Mary actually told me that. She said that the only people left in Victoria’s line were the “Pemberton girls.” I didn’t know that I had any relations called Pemberton, but there you are. Anyway, these people, whoever they are, are getting money that they shouldn’t be getting.”
“Have you seen a lawyer about this, Miss Carter?”
“Cressida, please.”
She leaned further towards him and fiddled with her watch. He noticed that she was too thin and wondered how hard she worked at it.
“Have you seen a lawyer about this, Cressida?”
“Yes, I have. I went straight to our family solicitor in Shropshire. He has been great actually. He dug out the trust document, and we looked at it together. He advised me that if Victoria Darcy were not really the daughter of Fitzwilliam Darcy then she and her descendants definitely should not be getting any money. He said that we would be able to challenge it and get them excluded. More buns for the rest of us. Only problem he said was that we need to prove it, and that is why I’ve come to you.”
Charlie took a deep breath and put the lid back on his fountain pen without writing anything down. He considered noting “Victoria Darcy, born 1821” on his pad but couldn’t see the point. He had been sent on some wild goose chases in his time. More often than not, he had to listen to a crazy story or two from his clients. He had been through people’s bins and hidden behind moss-cloaked garden walls. He had hacked into people’s voice mails and followed their cars to their lovers’ houses down country lanes and sodium-lit streets. He had dredged through the contents of stolen laptops, dragging his tired eyes over file upon file of holiday snaps and letters and nonsense. He had read through thousands of pages of bank statements, telephone transcripts, and court documents. He was good—really good. If a secret was there, Charlie Haywood would find it. But he had never been asked to bust somebody for adultery nearly two hundred years after it had occurred.
“Right. Thanks. That is an amazing story, Cressida. You probably don’t need me to tell you that it is rather unusual.
I am going to need to go away and do a bit of background research because, well, I’m sure you realise that what you are asking me to look at is a long way in the past. Paternity disputes are a different thing these days, of course. We have DNA testing and so on. And when people are still alive, somebody always knows, somebody will always talk. Do you know what I mean?”
She nodded, but he was not at all sure she was following him.
“But when it comes to this Victoria Darcy—well you are talking about a woman who was born nearly two hundred years ago. I am going to need to do some serious rooting around just to work out the basics of who she was and who her family were. I am going to want to see that trust document and learn all about this Fitzwilliam Darcy and his family. Once I have done that, we can think about how we might go about uncovering the truth of Victoria’s paternity. I’m afraid there aren’t any guarantees here. This is a tricky one. The plain hard truth is that it might be impossible to prove that Victoria wasn’t his daughter. You might spend a lot of money and get nowhere. Do you understand that, Cressida?”
“Yes, I understand.”
“And you will take the risk?”
“Yeah, I’ll take the risk.” She tilted her head and smiled. “I reckon it’s going to pay off.”






Jenetta James is a mother, lawyer, writer, and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practises full-time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego. She is the author of “Suddenly Mrs. Darcy” which was published by Meryton Press in April 2015. “The Elizabeth Papers” is her second novel.


    

Win a print copy or eCopy of The Elizabeth Papers
(4 winners each)




#JAFF @MerytonPress @JenettaJames @J_Leatherberry http://goo.gl/cXRKvv

16 comments :

  1. Question to the author: What literary character is most like you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi - I have always felt an affinity with Flora Post from Cold Comfort Farm... I don't really write about characters who are much like me though, which is odd now I come to think of it. This is a great question - thank you for asking it:-)

      Delete
  2. well at the moment this Cressida doesn't sound nice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She doesn't really does she? I should say that she isn't the heroine of the modern story - though she is an important character - & maybe there is some hope for her? Thanks for the comment & good luck in the giveaway!

      Delete
  3. Good excerpt. "I'll take the risk."

    Indeed. Muahahahaha!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This book sounds wonderful, I enjoyed the excerpt a lot. Would love to read this book :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for comment Kirsten & good luck in the giveaway:-)

      Delete
  5. Rats! I'm curious about the excerpt, but I don't want to spoil my read of the book. Well, I'll just have to wait, but I would love to win a copy.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ha ha Ginna - I have picked excerpts that shouldn't spoil the book, so you can peek! Also - this bit is from very early on... Good luck in the giveaway:-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Can't wait to read this one1

    ReplyDelete
  8. Am so curious anout this story!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Two stories in one book? Interesting! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. This sounds like a great read can't wait to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This sounds like a great read can't wait to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I always liked the name Maureen.

    ReplyDelete

♥ Thank You for Your Comment! (It means more than you know) Good Luck in the Giveaway! ♥